Owner of refuge at Hatun Machay denounces local community for usurpation

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The soap in the community of Pampas Chico where the forest of rocks Hatun Machay (regionally spelled as Jatun Mache) is located continues. The Huaraz Telegraph spoke with Andrés Saibene who explained his motives for going to court as we referred to an article published by thehuaraztelegraph.com which he qualified as pure lies.

I have a signed agreement with the community of Pampas Chico that states that I was given a permit to construct a touristic lodge on their property.  The construction was funded with my own money and the contract also states that the money collected from the lodge belongs to my business. The fluency of tourism generated by the lodge and climbing routes at Hatun Machay give the community the right to charge an entrance fee to tourists. Additionally they have the option of selling food like pachamanca, cuy or handicrafts. The problem is that the community of Pampas Chica has never wanted to work. If you would go to the Glacier of Pastroruri you will see that the community of Catac can be found selling all sorts of stuff such as handicrafts, jackets and food. This is not the case at Hatun Machay, as they hardly were capable of charging the entrance fee to their own property.

All was marching well for the past five years and many community members are in favour of me managing the lodge. I haven’t touched my lodge (referring to the destruction of goods) and the journalist of Canal 13 that is accusing me of all sorts of things is spreading lies. The second thing is that I am the owner of the lodge, so even if I wanted to burn down the building, legally I could. I paid and constructed everything with my own money. It´s ridiculous! Manuel Danzarín president of the Rural Community of Pampas Chico has said that I owe money to the community. He can say that but does he have a document that states that I owe him or the community any money?

What they are doing is destroying everything. Do you know how many climbers are coming to Peru just to climb in Hatun Machay? Another important topic is that I have armed all the 80 climbing routes at the rock forest. And it´s not only about opening a new route, these routes have been maintained in good conditions during the years. The little money that I have been able to make of the lodge has been invested in the lodge again. The lodge was getting better and better every year. There were hot showers, a possibility to camp, the lodge was warmed up in the mornings, brand-new mattresses etc. and this obviously costs money. For example, we have never charged money to archeologists that wanted to explore the caves around Hatun Machay. I have removed most of the metal sheets and anchors that were on the rocks because those are mine too. But now let the community invest some money in making the place going again. I have invested much money in making the place what it is today. The eight soles entrance fee charged by the community belongs to them. Locals have always spread bad publicity that I have been charging money to tourists to climb, but this is not the case. Is it unfair to charge a bit of money so the refuge is warm and has some facilities like a hot shower?

Just type in Hatun Machay in Google and see all the good things that tourists have written about the place. This is because of all the hard work and energy that I have invested in the place since 2006. Not one tourists has every complained about the services of Hatun Machay, the only ones complaining are the community and some yellow press journalists. There is ten years of work in the lodge and equipping the climbing routes. The community thinks just to usurp the building that I helped construct with my money. [sic]

We asked Andrés if he believes there is a solution to the problem.

I hope to get to an agreement with the community, but being on speaking terms, not the violent way. They can buy the building if they want to. If they let me recuperate my investment, I am fine with that. Why have they never constructed their own lodge? Why do they just want to take position of my ´house´? They want things easy and that´s why I went to court, to do it the legal way. And we´ll have to see what the outcome of the trail will be. Who is right? That´s what is the law for, isn’t it? I can prove everything with documents; the question is what can the community and their president prove?

On Wednesday in Catac (when the court cited the president of the community to hand over documents) I was attacked by community members. In what sort of country are we living? I know the community believes that I have destroyed things at Hatun Machay but let them prove it with facts like photos for example. It doesn’t make any sense. Do you really think a person would construct a building to later lose it after eight years and just hand it over to an unknown? It´s not logical! A mere five years ago there were hardly any tourists going to Hatun Machay, it was empty. Look what we have done with the place!

They (the community) appear to run the lodge since a month now but haven’t even bought mattresses or anything. What will happen if the court rules in favour of the community? The place will become abandoned because they don’t want to work. Tourists are still charged eight soles but all services are destroyed. Time will tell who´s right. Let me finally tell you that I have always worked WITH the community. At the time of constructing the lodge, members of the community have helped us, and they have received a financial reward for it. The agreement I talked about before states that in any case that I need workforce, the community members are the first option. They might not like me but I have all the papers. [sic]